Daily Archives: October 18, 2012

Wow

I’m just back from the Barbican Center, where I witnessed tonight a triumphant, energetic, all-out performance of Elgar’s First Symphony.

But first, Cambridge . . . .

Morning Eucharist today, on the Feast of St. Luke the Evangelist, was appropriately enough in the Nurse’s Chapel, more properly known as the Florence Nightingale Chapel.  I loved the window and the oil lamp.  (Click on that link; the window is the third picture from the left.)

And then I made my way via the Circle Line up to King’s Cross to take the 9.45 a.m. train to Cambridge.  Once I arrived, I spent the next couple of hours at Trinity College and at King’s, in addition to a couple of shops.  Now, I love Cambridge so much.  It’s everything that I envision a British university town to be.  And since it’s the first of those towns I visited, way back in 1995, it’s also idyllic and romanticised in my feeble imagination.  (Like that British spelling?)

The King’s Chapel is the single most beautiful room in the world.  Period.  Nothing comes close to the centuries-old wonder and splendor of the fan vaulting and stained glass in this most amazing place.  My poor pictures cannot do it justice.

A short cab ride took me to the home of Sir David Willcocks and his wife Lady Willcocks (Rachel).  We were joined for luncheon by an old friend of theirs, Elizabeth, who was up from London for the day.  Luncheon itself was truly splendid, and Sir David was in great form with stories and reminiscences.  We later filled an hour and ten minutes talking about his life, and of course about Howells.  I have the whole thing on a memory card.  Let’s just say that when I left their home around 4 p.m., I felt like I’d been on Mount Olympus listening to a god.

Sir David is in his 90’s, but has amazing recall of events and places and people.  Their two dogs, Bonnie and Clyde, long-hair Corgis both, took an instant liking to me.  I missed Samson the Feist terribly all of a sudden.  My thank-you gift to them was a jar of homemade apple butter.  Lady Willcocks indicated this was something new to them; I do hope they enjoy it.  And of course I had Sir David autograph his autobiography for me.

After the 50-minute train ride back to London, I made my way to the hotel, ate a couple of samosas I picked up along the walk from Waterloo Station, took off my tie, and then set out for the Barbican.

This was to be a concert conducted by Sir Colin Davis, but he pulled out of this gig a few days ago.  I instead saw the youngish Russian conductor Vasily Petrenko.  And damn, he was smoking on the podium tonight.  This guy, all 36 years old of him, knows how to handle an orchestra.  I regret that I didn’t get a chance to see Sir Colin at 85, as this was likely my last chance to see him conduct, but I’m glad for the concert tonight!

It’s now 11, and I have another start tomorrow, so the rest must wait.